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How to get the most out of your course before you graduate

If you’re in the last few years of your degree, you have no doubt begun thinking about what life will be like in the ‘real world’. If the end is scarily near, you might like to read about some of the initiatives taken by higher education providers to make sure you get the most of your course.

  • Work experience programs:
    Traditionally, students have been required to compete for work experience, whether over the summer holidays or through casual stints over the year. Completing work experience allows you to apply the knowledge and skills you have developed throughout your course and will also give you an edge in the graduate job market. While gaining work experience can still be competitive, many institutions now integrate work placements into their courses. Placements often take the place of regular subjects, meaning that you will swap some of your class time for practical experience while still gaining credit. For more information, see Five benefits of completing an internship.
  • Industry projects:
    While not strictly work experience, some courses require you to complete industry projects (real work for real companies) as part of your coursework. This is most common in areas such as fashion, graphic design and public relations. Projects may include anything from business proposals or pitches to design exercises or models.
  • Capstone subjects:
    Capstone units are relatively new in Australia, but they are becoming more common. They are taken in the final year of study and are designed to bring together (or ‘cap’) the content learnt throughout your degree. They may include a work experience program, a research project or a series of work-ready or course reflection seminars. The availability and content of capstone units will vary between institutions, so it is best to check with course coordinator.

  • Careers counselling:
    Most institutions will provide some sort of careers counselling to help you find work at the end of your degree. This may include training sessions to help you cement the skills required by employers, help with résumé writing or individual sessions with a counsellor to help you develop an employment plan. You may also have access to a job service (whether onsite or online) that can help put you in contact with graduate employers. Some institutions may also hold graduate careers fairs or provide a careers service for alumni or use social networks (such as Facebook or LinkedIn) to help connect graduates with employers.

Further information: